My cousin Earl was kind enough to recommend two good pieces of reading before I went into this one: Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z. I have never heard of either. There also wasn't enough time for me to read them before seeing the 9pm showing of "Zombieland". However, based on the title alone, it sounds like Zombie Survival Guide. May have been the closest to what this flick was. That's just about how this one played out with a huge amount of comedy interjected.
In "Zombieland", a deadly virus has ravaged the human population turning most of the world into zombies. A meek loner named Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) reluctantly joins up with a seasoned zombie slayer named Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) in order to survive the zombie apocalypse. As Tallahassee continues his mission to find the last Twinkie on earth (because you know they have expiration dates), the duo meets up with Witchita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), two young girls who have resorted to some rather unorthodox methods to survive amidst the chaos.
This movie inadvertently made news long before its release date thanks to some strange actions from its main star. Woody attacked a photog in an airport and claimed he mistook him for a zombie all because of the character he had been playing in "Zombieland". When you see Tallahassee in action, Woody's story seems entirely plausible. We've seen actors get so immersed in their character that it carries over from the set to real life. For better or worse. I can just imagine that Woody was still riding that adrenaline rush when he ran into the photographer in the airport. He makes Tallahassee one of the most efficient zombie killers you've ever seen. That makes this one of the better zombie movies out there.
As for the survival guide, Columbus is kind enough to narrate sporadically throughout the film and occasionally offer survival tips. Most of them are common sense, but it's particularly hilarious how they show him in action displaying some of that common sense. Especially early on when he's describing the cardio one. I still wonder how "Don't Be a Hero" was #17 yet Columbus tells us it's the most important rule. Wouldn't that make it number one then?
One of the best things about this flick is they touch on some of the benefits a zombie-infested world would present. It wouldn't be ALL bad. If you're already a loner anyway, it would just offer you more space to do that. There would also be free parking everywhere you go. Although locating gas would eventually become a problem since there are no tankers to fill up the gas stations. My personal favorite though was how Columbus pointed out there would be no more senseless Facebook status updates. I know I could do without some of the quiz results that folks continually insist on publishing.
The demographic of the audience makes a HUGE difference when you're watching a movie. It just so happened that mine was comprised of about 90% college-aged kids. They managed to find humor in just about everything and "Zombieland" is one of those movies where the laughs are easy to find. When you think about it, zombie movies have been leaning towards the comedic direction for years now. It was about time someone made one that combined the excessive gore with the same amount of jokes. "Shaun of the Dead" almost got there, but they went a little light in the gore department.
The only knock I had on the film had to do with the finale. Witchita and Little Rock were determined to get to an amusement park called Pacific Palisades because they were convinced it was zombie-free. Of course it wasn't, but that wasn't the problem. We've all been to enough amusement parks to know that the rides don't operate themselves. Somebody has to stop and start them. Most of the rides in this place seem to run themselves without any explanation given as to how it's possible. It was a very forgivable offense though given how well they were able to incorporate so many creative zombie kills. Particularly the one with Columbus and the clown which should go down as the zombie kill of the week
"Zombieland" was the perfect movie to allow me to make my transition from my horror movie diet to my horror movie binge. It took a scary movie premise and kept much of those elements while making most of them comical. There's even a mystery cameo that was written perfectly into the script. Even though it may not have been a true blue scary movie, it has now become my favorite zombie flick of all time.
My rating: A-